Read: Colossians 2:16-17
The first thing Paul warns against in following Christ is LEGALISM. Legalism is defined as strictly following the “letter of the law” rather than the spirit. It is following the rules without embracing the spirit of something. For example, church attendance is an excellent tool for growing in our faith. It is a place to interact with other believers, a place to encourage and be encouraged, a place to hear God’s word spoken and read aloud.
Attending as an obligation, as a duty, defeats the purpose. Going to church doesn’t make you more saved. It doesn’t get you points in some heavenly reward system. It is the spirit behind attending that matters.
The same can be said for Bible reading, prayer, fasting, meditation, good deeds, observance of holy days, dressing a certain way, avoiding certain activities – anything that can be leveraged against Jesus alone as the way to come into the presence of God.
In the gospels you will find Jesus breaking religious norms. He didn’t always wash in the prescribed fashion. He healed on Sunday and told the person to get up, take his mat and walk. He broke the rules. Not because he wanted to cause a problem, but because the spirit of the law had been forgotten. The activity had become the means to holiness, not God. In the process of following the rules, the people no longer showed compassion and mercy for one another. Obedience to the law(s) trumped love for people.
It is so easy to fall into patterns of legalism. What is troubling you today? Have you forgotten that it is Jesus alone who sets you free? It is Jesus alone you must follow. He radically loved others and wasn’t afraid to break the rules to do it. Are you?